Archive for Sunday, July 3, 2011

Minnesota governor fights GOP’s ‘no new tax’ stance

July 3, 2011


— Mark Dayton, the Democratic governor of Minnesota who let his state’s government shut down rather than accept the refusal of Republican lawmakers to raise income taxes on the wealthy, was born into money.

It made him sure of something: “I grew up in that environment. I know people can afford it.”

Most of Minnesota state government stands idle this weekend, the result of Dayton’s and the GOP-controlled state legislature’s failure to pass a new budget by Friday’s deadline. State parks and the Minnesota Zoo are closed, highway projects are stalled and thousands of government workers are at home without pay for the foreseeable future.

The battle over the state budget in Minnesota echoes those underway in Washington and in other state capitals, as Republicans still energized from gains in 2010 focus on cutting spending and refuse to consider tax increases of any kind. New GOP governors such as New Jersey’s Chris Christie and Florida’s Rick Scott have made deep cuts in state programs and employee benefits, while even some of Dayton’s fellow Democratic governors, such as New York’s Andrew Cuomo, have eschewed tax hikes amid a fragile economic recovery.

The soft-spoken Dayton refuses to cave to the GOP’s stance that higher taxes are verboten. Since taking office, he has championed tax hikes on rich Minnesotans — or at least some form of new state revenue — as a necessary part of any solution to closing the state’s $5 billion budget deficit.

“My father’s favorite quote was from the Bible: ‘Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,”’ Dayton told The Associated Press on Friday afternoon in his Capitol office. The front doors to the domed building were newly adorned with signs: “This building closed until further notice due to the state government service interruption.”

Dayton’s great-grandfather founded a Minneapolis-based dry goods store and along with family members built it into the department store chain that’s now Target Corp. The Dayton family no longer controls the company, but it left Mark Dayton a wealthy man who’s spent large chunks of his fortune on a quirky political career that took him to the U.S. Senate (he quit after one term) and now, at 64, to the state’s top political office.

“I don’t underestimate his resolve,” said Doug Magnus, a Republican state senator and a farmer from the state’s southwest corner. “Other people around the table, including the Republicans, have political things in mind. I believe the governor feels he has one term to do what he thinks is the right thing to do, and he’s going to do it.”

The political ideology underpinning Dayton’s actions isn’t limited to his experiences as a personally wealthy man. In Friday’s interview, he described his years after graduating from college at Yale, which included a short time teaching in an inner-city school in New York City.

“All these kids in my classroom were just as wonderful creations as I, and through no choice of our own, I was born into this great good fortune and they were born into this abject poverty,” Dayton said. “The injustice really seared my conscience.”

Dayton said his political views are more sophisticated now, but protecting the downtrodden has remained a constant. He decried the spending cuts that would likely be necessary without more tax money in Minnesota: “We’re going to cut home health care attendants for seniors? We’re going to deny elderly widows the at-home services they rely on? All so that millionaires do not have to pay another dollar in taxes?” he asked.

Dayton has never made being a politician look easy. Quiet and intense, he speaks in a halting manner, sometimes garbles his sentences and lacks a smooth personal touch. Twice divorced, he is close to two adult sons and lives in the governor’s mansion with two German shepherds — one named for a southern Minnesota town, the other for a northern part of the state.


Liberty_One 6 years, 11 months ago

What's this? I thought the government shut down. Surely the entire state has since burned to the ground. After all, without an all-powerful government we'd all be goners, right?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

Yea, and I keep hearing about all the damage that was done in Joplin by that tornado. But I don't see any indications of it around here. The only explanation is that it wasn't all that bad a storm, if it happened at all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago


But I have to disagree that we seldom agree (although we have indeed had our disagreements.)

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

"But I have to disagree that we seldom agree" - funny. We need more humor and less vitriol. Thank you.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

I'd like to see the nature of government change considerably, and greatly reduced in many areas.

But I'm not going to elevate its near total elimination to a religion.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 11 months ago

Hang tough, governor. You are on the right track.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

Yet another Limousine Liberal Wealth Redistributor who wants to raise taxes on hard-working, productive Minnesotans because he inherited his wealth and doesn't have to worry about money.

Will wonders never cease?

cato_the_elder 6 years, 11 months ago

"I guess he's the only rich person in Minnesota who inherited their money."

You must have been at the bottom of the class in grammar school.

pace 6 years, 11 months ago

About time, the sacred ideals of the rad right that the wealthiest should not be taxed at a fair rate is wrong and stupid. It feeds corruption.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 11 months ago

pace, just what do you think is a "fair" rate of taxation for people who make more than $100,00 a year? Let's see a number.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 11 months ago

Where did all this debt come from anyway? Oh yeah, Gee Dub (and Roberts and Brownback, et al.) nearly doubled the debt during his eight years in office.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 11 months ago

(posted to the wrong article, please remove at your earliest convenience)

jmadison 6 years, 11 months ago

Dayton won by 8,000 votes with 44% of the electorate of Minnesota voting for him. He definitely has a mandate to shut down the government. The state of Minnesota has received 6% more tax revenue and Governor Dayton has proposed 12% more in spending. Government spending is a bottomless pit.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

Do the Republicans have a mandate to shut it down? After all, they are just as responsible as he is.

Maddy Griffin 6 years, 11 months ago

Way to go Governor Dayton. If the GOP wants to play hardball, let them play. It's called "shared sacrifice." Why should middle and low income folks have to carry the burden while the fat cats buy new boats, jets, etc. We wouldn't be in this mess if the rich were willing to pay their share. If Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Oprah are willing to pay more in taxes, what the hell is the matter with the rest of them. And those are the folks already giving back to the less fortunate. Greed will be the downfall of us all.

Sunny Parker 6 years, 11 months ago

If the 47% of Americans NOT paying taxes would pay their FAIR share....could help a lot!

pace 6 years, 11 months ago

Repeal the Bush tax cuts or simplify the tax code.

gkerr 6 years, 11 months ago

Another puff piece by an AP writer shoring up the meme that Progressives just want to increase taxes on the super wealthy, i.e., millionaires and billionaires. In reality Obama's plan and Dayton's is to tax further the productive and already overtaxed upper middle class.

For Obama his 'super rich' begins at earnings $ 200,000.00 per year and $ 250,000 per couple.
For Dayton it's the same rhetoric and the same scheme- demonize the super rich and use the emotions of resentment and jealousy incited to misdirect the attention to the details of the tax increase which really tax the upper middle class who are already heavily burdened by taxes.

The super wealthy will off shore their wealth, or pay off congressmen for loop hole legislation that their CPA's and lawyers will take maximum advantage of. The middle class will get hosed again and will bear the burden of the governments perpetual hunger for the wealth and property of it's citizens.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

By the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion.

Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just three Republican Presidents.

Dollars and Sense

Flap Doodle 6 years, 11 months ago

How many times did you copy/paste this same drivel this morning, merrill?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

Given that it's your self-appointed task to be a wart on his butt, that's a rhetorical question, right?

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